One under-the-radar thing I've been planning to watch for this offseason is the scheduling of teams' mandatory veteran minicamps, in regards to the timing of a deadline for restricted free agents.
Thursday is the deadline for RFAs to sign offer sheets with other teams, but it's not the only big one coming down the pike. If RFAs aren't signed on June 15, teams can lower their tender offers to 110 percent of the player's 2009 salary and retain exclusive negotiating rights. So I was interested to see how many of these minicamps would be scheduled for after the deadline, making it so the veterans would a) be compelled to sign their offer sheets before the minicamp and b) therefore be forced to show up or risk being fined.
And here it is: Patriots minicamp -- June 15-17.
Maybe it's a coincidence. Maybe it isn't.
The bottom line is that if Mankins doesn't sign his $3.268 million tender by June 15, the Patriots can slice his offer to $1.54 million. That's a $1.728 million difference.
If he does sign, he's under contract, and has to report or risk being fined. So it looks like we might have our first crossroads in Mankins's negotiations coming up.